Local children’s artist gets a nod at the Los Angeles International Film Festival
“Being recognized in more artistic venues is really redemptive for me,” says Virginia Cowan Dennis, whose alter ego is Mabel Moon.
Virginia Cowan Dennis hopes to one day soon join the ranks of iconic Canadian children’s television hosts like Mr. Dress Up, The Friendly Giant, Polka Dot Door or Today’s Special.
While Cowan Dennis — who is perhaps best known to some by her alter ego Mabel Moon — is already quite well known to many children and parents, having brought her energetic talents to hundreds of birthday parties and events throughout Simcoe County for nearly a decade, the Phelpston-based children’s artist begins to be recognized in some of the larger circles of the industry.
Like all artists, the pandemic put an abrupt end to her ability to do in-person shows and events, so Cowan Dennis and her husband took the opportunity to set up a “boutique” home movie studio, where she filmed the first three concept episodes. of a TV show, which she planned to pitch to broadcasters in hopes of getting her picked up.
“Selling a TV show is very difficult. I went to a pitching session last fall…where I pitched for sesame street, CBC, TVO Kids…and seven producers or broadcasters,” she said, adding that her show revival would be a dream come true. “It would be really amazing. I never thought that where I started with Mabel Moon is where I would end up now.
“Becoming a successful children’s producer is really tough and it’s a whole new world for me.”
After not having success last fall, one of its co-producers suggested submitting the episodes to various film festivals. The result, she continued, was overwhelmingly positive, indicating BarrieToday Mabel Moon Productions was a finalist for Best Children’s Short for the Indie Short Fest as part of the Los Angeles International Film Festival.
The film was also nominated as an official selection with the Toronto Indie Shorts for Best Experimental Short.
“They’re beautiful on their own and stand on their own like little shorts,” she explained, adding that since the episodes were submitted, she’s received a lot of positive feedback.
“It’s really great because when I was back in the fall, one of the broadcasters really tore me apart and the episode apart, so the fact that I’m being recognized for something that everyone was (saying no)…and for it to become recognized in more artistic venues is really redeeming for me.
Cowan Dennis plans to continue her interest in television for young audiences and to explore how she can become a producer of quality children’s content.
“My ultimate goal is that I love being on TV. I love being a paid actor and I wanted to bring what I can do as Mabel Moon to the screen. I feel like there’s has a place for Mabel Moon in this world — and you don’t have to do anything more. You just have to enjoy it.
It’s been nearly 12 years since Cowan Dennis officially created his alter ego, telling BarrieToday she is extremely proud of the way she — and the character of Mabel Moon — continued to evolve.
“I started out as a makeup artist. Over time I wanted to incorporate more. I’m a performer and I wanted to start doing live shows,” she said.
With these extra offerings tucked away in her apron, she was then able to expand her birthday party and event services, and over the years she has realized the impact she can have on young lives through her personage.
“I was just happy to find a niche that I liked and where I could make money. I didn’t really think about the fact that I influenced kids too,” she admitted. “Like my dentist said, when people come to see him, they’re not happy to be there. But when people see (Mabel Moon), it’s always a good day. I try to make my best with the platform I have.